Hope Together

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Hope Together by Talia Zames - Photo by Aliza Abusch-Magder

The security checkpoint is hushed, buzzing, as we wait in line under the serene, troubled sky.
The soldiers, not much older than I am, furrow their brows in concentration,
And I feel safe, for I know any one of them would give their very lives to keep Israel safe.
I wait for the rest of my family to pass through the security enclosure.
We walk down the ramp.
And I see it.
The Kotel,
In all of its remaining glory, and my legs cease all movement as tears fill my eyes.
This wall of old Jerusalem stone holds so much history.
It cares for the papers and prayers overflowing in the slim cracks of the rocks.
But most of all, it contains hope.
Hope that families will no longer have to convert their children’s playrooms into bomb shelters.
Hope that someday the blaring sirens will cease entirely—not just after the bomb has made contact with its target.
Hope that the hurt and marginalized find peace.
Hope that military checkpoints and racial profiling will no longer be considered necessary.
Hope that our loved ones are safe.
Hope that negotiation and cooperation hasn’t become a whisper of the past.
Hope that hatred and bigotry will no longer find shelter in the homes of the struggling, no longer be harbored in the innocent spirits of children.
Hope that someday, war and bloodshed will cease, and a great peace will embrace the whole world.
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I stand in front of the golden Western Wall, and I am
Speechless.
Surrounding me are women praying from the deepest caverns of their hearts,
Some celebrating b’nei mitzvah, some deeply entrenched in bottomless grief.
Ancient Hebrew melodies fill my ears as they circulate through the air around me.
The deep tones of men’s voices drift toward me as they chant the Sh’mah.
I slowly walk to the wall, feeling my heels and toes connect to this sacred ground.
I place my hands on the warm stone; my vision is blurred through tears.
Tears of joy, of gratefulness, of struggle, and of hope.
The ancient prayers and fresh memories all fade away until I am the only one.
The last remaining wall from the Holy Temple, and I, a young Jewish girl,
All alone.
__
I run my fingers over the stones, smoothed with tears and time.
A wave of emotions crashes over me as I imagine the thousands of years that this wall has witnessed.
The history of my people.
The Israelites, the Hebrews,
The scapegoats.
The brave, the hopeful, the strong—
The Jews.

I look back at my family and those nearby praying,
And I smile.
Because we have always risen above bigotry and stereotypes, and
We have persevered.
Even when adversity seemed impossible to overcome,
We, the Jews,
Held onto the one thing our oppressors could not take away—
Our hope.
For when G-d closes a door,
He always opens a window.
We just have to climb through it.
Together.

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